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This is the million-dollar question, in fact, for some companies, it could mean more. While pursuing the goal of becoming a data-driven company you can acknowledge the power of data to help you make the right decision at every point in time. But, how do you know if you’re on the right track? Happily, there are a lot of indicators and information to help with this evaluation. Knowing what stage your company is at can help underline what you must do to achieve the coveted ‘data-driven’ title. This leads to acknowledging what it takes to get there from different angles: how much effort is needed, how much in the way of resources must be spent, or even what competencies could be missing. In the end, the idea is to efficiently implement this process and become more competitive.

1. How much do you know about your data and who needs it?

To take advantage of analytics it is important that you know how data will be inputted and what data is available. How is data stored for the main areas of information that you need to work with – in files like Microsoft Excel or text, or contained in databases? How are these sources accessed nowadays? If you can answer these questions, then you have a good understanding of the data available.

Another aspect is knowing whom that data will be relevant to, who your end users going to be and in what contexts they will access that data. For instance, if one of your objectives is to get mobile access to content or data stored in the cloud, you need to know if your company has these resources. Find out which technologies are being used now and list the technologies you may need in the future to support the whole process.

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2. How focused is your team on becoming a data-driven company?

When a company wants to go down the data-driven route, its people must be oriented that way too. Every disruptor must have sponsors, normally executives, who are open to change and who understand and believe in the benefits of the project. These internal sponsors will be responsible for ensuring that business processes frequently include data analysis and act as enablers. Make sure that your leaders are ready too and have the skills to embrace transformation. Find data champions, people who can work with data tools and share their knowledge with other end users.

It’s no use investing in a new process like this if you’re not committed to changing everyone and persuading them towards a digital and data mindset. If you want your company to be data-driven, you must spread the ideals, but don’t try to do it alone, believe in everyone’s capabilities.

3. Does your company have all the necessary skills?

Implementing an analytics platform will require different areas of expertise, ranging from data engineering to visualisation and even setting up infrastructure. Besides this, users will need training and regular workshops can help drive adoption.

Start by checking the proficiency of your end-users, whether you have an analytics department if there are any data champions and what skills are available. Implementing a data-driven path without specific skills will be very hard and may take ages to achieve. You can even jeopardise the whole process if you don’t anticipate user needs or simply don’t have enough quality data and undermine the confidence in analytics.

This is something hard to recover from because everyone must feel that it’s easy to interact with the platform and for this, they must be well trained and have a super-cool infrastructure where they can easily access these new functionalities without problems.

4. How can everything be governed and secured?

Last but not least, after analysing where your company culture is headed, after evaluating the data available and after defining all the players who will be involved, you must check how security is achieved and content is being governed. Is information divided by department or is it all held centrally to be accessed by all users? What can someone with a specific role view do? Will they only see specific information or be able to access all your content? These are examples of some of the questions you must look at.

Nowadays, low-code modern BI (Business Intelligence) tools like Microsoft PowerBI and Tableau have features and capabilities that satisfy these issues, which makes the job easier. With them, you can give freedom to your users to do whatever they want; see, edit and share content, etc., but always governed by what you decide they are able to do. In many cases, especially for larger companies, data is accessed to build dashboards with content that can be shared to specific roles across the whole organisation. Without a good governance model, it’s really hard to achieve a streamlined process where content is quickly accessed, updated when needed and safely shared.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate what stage your company is at, and this is why today we are giving you some insights and advice. The term ‘data-driven’ is becoming ever more popular and better understood in the business world, but many companies don’t know where they stand and what they should do.

The actual steps you need to take to become a data-driven company will depend on your unique organisation set-up and where you currently stand. We want you to know where you are, what you have and what you need to do, and this is why Xpand IT created the Data Journey concept, detailing all the steps required for success. We can help you evaluate, design and deploy a sustainable initiative to pursue and achieve a data-driven culture, making sure you have all the necessary skills available and someone with a high level of expertise assessing your needs. The objective and final outcome are to promote the success of one of the most important aspects of your company’s digital transformation.

Blog post by José Miranda Data Engineer – Xpand IT

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